My husband came home from our nephew's little league baseball game last weekend and asked, "Did we act like that?"
Before he could even elaborate, I knew what he was asking. Were we, when our children were younger, absolute idiots when it came to sports? Did we live, breathe, and eat the sport du jour, grasping onto the prayer that every game was the first day of our child's professional, Sports Center-destined journey.
"Absolutely," I told him. That wasn't the answer he was hoping for, but I could tell, deep in his heart, he knew I was right.
We weren't as overcharged as some I've heard of - the two mothers of opposing teams smacking each other with their purses in the stands until the police were called; the father who sat behind the fence at home plate and put the stink eye on the umpire until he was banished to the bleachers; and the mother who brought a stop watch to every game and timed how many minutes her son got to play as compared to the others, then reported to the coach every inning.
Heartwarming stories were reported a while back by the National Alliance for Youth Sports: two women assaulting and leaving unconscious a mother after a youth baseball game in Utah; a youth baseball coach in Wisconsin being arrested for wrestling an umpire to the ground; and more than 30 adults brawling at the end of a soccer tournament for players under the age of 14 in Los Angeles.
We may have had visions of grandeur, but we were never violent.
"We were mild," I assured my husband. Civilized, I might even say. I never opened up a can of throw-down on anybody during a game, but that's not to say the thought never crossed my mind. I recall quite vividly having extreme anxiety over an opposing team mother's "batter, batter, swing" rant when our team came up to the plate. After the fourth or fifth inning of her inappropriate, high- pitched taunting, sure, I wanted to smack her with something -- batter, batter, swing her right out of that orange folding chair. Sigh, I didn't. But my head sure did hurt from giving her the stink eye.
I'm glad we aren't a pageant family. I've watched that television show that follows little girls (and sometimes boys) vying to be top dog in glitz and glamour pageants across the country. Two-year-olds getting spray-tanned and wearing false teeth and fake eyelashes. Third-graders dancing around in Lady Gaga and Madonna outfits. There's no question - my head would explode from giving the stink eye to some of those parents.
I was never in a beauty pageant. Daddy always said it's because he'd have to beat up any judge that didn't pick us. Once, when our son played basketball, my mama yelled to a referee that he might consider getting his eyes checked because surely he was blind. Not once ... she yelled it at least three, maybe even five, times. I told her she couldn't come back to a game unless she was medicated. She gave me the stink eye.
I'm not a violent person, truly I'm not. I wouldn't put my hands on a fly - I'd smack it with a magazine or squish it under my shoe - but I wouldn't put my hands on it. Violence isn't acceptable, especially in children's sports. That's not to say that a good, old-fashioned stink eye isn't warranted every now and then. Just be careful not to lock in for too long -- your head might explode.
Then again ... that replay just might make it on Sports Center.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.